Re­vised law en­hances over­sight of pol­luters

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WU WENCONG wuwen­cong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion and in­creased li­a­bil­ity placed on pol­luters are the high­lights of the re­vised En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Law, adopted by the coun­try’s top leg­is­la­ture on Thurs­day.

In its first change in 25 years, the law now has 70 ar­ti­cles, com­pared with its orig­i­nal 47, and was ap­proved by the Na­tional People’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee af­ter four draft ver­sions in al­most two years.

The ar­ti­cle that at­tracts the most at­ten­tion en­ti­tles el­i­gi­ble so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions to take le­gal ac­tion against pol­luters.

To be con­sid­ered el­i­gi­ble, the or­ga­ni­za­tions must be reg­is­tered with pre­fec­ture-level gov­ern­ments, have been ded­i­cated to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion for more than five years and have a good rep­u­ta­tion.

Al­though the bar for en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est law­suits was sig­nif­i­cantly low­ered dur­ing the re­vi­sion, some ex­perts and en­vi­ron­men­tal NGOs still be­lieve the thresh­old is too high.

Yuan Jie, di­rec­tor of the Of­fice for Ad­min­is­tra­tive Law with the Leg­isla­tive Af­fairs Com­mis­sion of the NPC Stand­ing Com­mit­tee, said the bar has been set fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional prac­tices.

“En­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic in­ter­est cases must be han­dled by pro­fes­sion­als be­cause rel­e­vant ev­i­dence is hard to col­lect. The prose­cu­tion must be fa­mil­iar with en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues and have good so­cial cred­i­bil­ity,” Yuan said, at a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

The re­vised law also in­creases penal­ties for vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing fin­ing pol­lut­ing com­pa­nies daily with­out set­ting a limit and hold­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment agencies jointly li­able with pol­lut­ing en­ter­prises if re­ports pro­vided by the agencies are found to be forged.

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